Thursday, December 31, 2009


The big wheel’s gone
around again -
another new year’s eve
to spend
with tuxes, ties and white balloons,
the ticking clock where
midnight looms;

I wish that I could be
with all the sequined party dress
es, champagne flowing,
deli trays,
hangovers built
to last for days;
Festive? Well, yes, I suppose,
I’ve seen the tournament
of rose and
bowl games and
counting down,
Dick Clark, Times Square,
the ball

and then another
newer year.
Hope and Promise?
and all the sunshine you can stand.
Forgive me, please,
but as the band
burps a boozy Auld Lang Syne
I’d just as soon
be just as fine
were it to pass as quietly
as starlight bouncing
off the sea.

Not much changes year to year
except a number
there and here.

On it spins,
to how our days and months are spent.
The governments, both just and cruel,
lumber and proclaim
their rule while in the deepest
darkest dim of all the armored hearts
of men
any change
that may
keeps no date
or time
or place.

It simply looks into
its face and deems
itself in silent
steel resolve;
to now,
to here,
to turn -

All we need to drink and dance
is something close to
half a chance
and why not seize some grand
events to shore up shaky confidence
and new years? As good a time as any is
to believe one can keep promises
that otherwise one cannot keep.

When midnight comes
I will not sleep.

I will kiss and wish all well
to party horns and fire bells.

But in my own
reticent heart
where hope is born and
pieced from parts
of broken plans,
expired dreams,
and tiny glints from
flashlight beams,

a welcome
eyelash wish may light;
not of the new,
but of the right.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

S' Nickel Us

Sander Klaus comes in me door
as I ain’t got no chimney -
we set up and juke and jaw,
throw down some bones and whiskey.

Sander Klaus, he gettin’ old,
he too fat fer his good;
he ask me if I want his job,
says I, don’t think I could.

I’s jangled by them jingle bells
and can’t find no appeal
in givin’ all them presents out
to folks says I’s inreal.

Sander Klaus, he tiny smile,
his face get sorta sad;
he turn out toward the window an’
I starts to gettin’ mad,

but he just shake his snowy head
and gen’ly wave his hand;
says he, the magic ain’t to fly –
s’to find somewheres to land.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


We are living Christmas
this year
huddled freezing against
the cold and
following yonder star
along deserted roads
to be staticized
in some small town
or other

there’s no room
left for us here
so we send out
greeting cards and résumés
deep and crisp and even
hoping to spark
some small beginning
or other

and farther
into the hills
there isn’t much
to watch over anymore
to certain poor shepherds
straining to hear
above the snarl
of empty stomachs
the voice of some small angel
or other

We are living Christmas
this year
Mary, Joseph, lend your aid
boxing it up and

in tempest, storm and wind
knocking on doors
and finding no room
even though
the baby is coming
Christmas is coming
past-dues are coming
and we are
still proceeding
we are
sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying
but even so
holding onto
this holy tide of Christmas
with bone-white fingers,
holding out for
comfort and joy
truth and grace
goodness and light
or until this long
lonely exile
is over
and we wake up
to some heavenly host,
new and glorious morn,
or any stray
hanging around
that might herald
unto us
some small hope,
some small
or other

[for the 32 people i work with who lost their jobs this week. i am so, so sorry.]

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Quarterbacks & Homecoming Queens

He’s holed up in the weight room
he lifts like a machine
she’s holed up in the bathroom
she polishes her preen

It’s Anywhere, America
forever seventeen
and everybody’s heroes
are quarterbacks, homecoming queens

They know how laugh politely
golden chain around their throat
always know some little secrets
that the rest of us just don’t

Playing catch with freckled kids
braiding heads of little girls
bored with everything we want
dreams of water tower worlds

Any given Friday night
any field of dim Holsteins
pickups flying through the black
with quarterbacks, homecoming queens

Trying hard to be so good
intentions pave the way
holding doors and thinking
daddy’s barn is full of hay

Some kids play in marching bands
some just can’t find their place
some wear someone else’s clothes
a tense uneven face

Might get smiles from their folks
and letters from the deans
But they never go to parties
with quarterbacks, homecoming queens

The smart kids all go off to school
the simple tend the store
and the ones that fall between them
either go for less or more

While some are frozen where they stand
in jerseys, skirts and jeans
with the quick and easy smiles
of quarterbacks, homecoming queens

Always and never are two words
a person ought not say
but time’s got this way of winking
makes you look the other way

He still holds a record somewhere
petals pressed into a book
they might tell you all about them
but can’t get themselves to look

Each play from twenty years ago,
each pump fake and cutback,
every time she called out
from a stool on the track,

Every dance he asked her to,
the movies that they missed,
each touchdown and tiara,
and each stolen summer tryst

Live behind the eyes somehow
they’re never far away
and probably were nice back then
but mean much more today

And when I pray I thank the Lord
my blessings did not ring
with speed or strength or with a face
that ever launched a thing

And then I say a quiet word
across the flood-lit greens
for heavy heads in paper crowns -
for quarterbacks, homecoming queens.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Sitting Room

Shot the dog in September.
Now it’s
Not very much
I can do
but remember.

Found an old note
in my corduroy
Just something silly
she sat down
and wrote.

I watch from my window
the kids in the snow.
How quickly they climb
and their squeals as they go.

I watch from my window
the grey fade to dark.

Wait for a phone call,
a footstep,
a bark.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


There are words I can not find
However much I’ve tried;
Awestruck in my gratitude
Not having been denied
Kindnesses I could not earn

Yet given, unreserved -
Occluding tepid fear with faith,
Upheld, though undeserved.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


and matchsticks
and old books
and card tricks

pocket knives
and forty-fives
and treble hooks
and moonlight drives

and words that rhyme
and Underdog
and lemon-lime

skirts that spin up
past the knees –
I’m not too hard
a man to please.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

After Math

If x is made
and y is miss;
bedeviled by

speed plus you
reflecting me -
a hapless heart’s

subtracting promise
with a kiss -
the algebra
of lonesomeness

fractals formed
by each percent;
Weierstrass of
our discontent

squarely rooted
long division

slipping slowly
by degrees -
our misaligned

If x is break
and y is bliss;
I never could
pass calculus.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


It may be that I’m simple
but sometimes I get the sense
there are reasons I can’t reckon
inside each coincidence

when a tangled mess of moments
come and go like time and chance
in positions forming purpose
it seems more than happenstance

take a hand you cannot see
take a step with confidence
towards an end you cannot know
and walk into providence

as my best-laid plans unravel
by my faults and flaws and frauds
I get tripped up by my failures,
false assumptions and facades

and although I can’t explain it
I can never quite dismiss
quiet mercies in the madness
surpassing serendipitous

take a hand you cannot see
let it lead through dissonance
to a music you can’t hear
and lean into providence

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Rue d'Âmes Perdues

A red light burns off Basin Street
2 blocks over, up two flights
over Mac’s Saloon, where I
sipped my bourbon late one night

where old Mac, bow tied and thin
rightly guessed me new in town;
and (as it was just he and I)
set off to lay his story down.

“Antebellum Alabama, son,
is where she was conceived,
an owner and a slave girl
on a howling Hallow’s eve

born onto a kitchen floor
her mamma in distress,
they wasn’t let to dig her grave
‘til someone cleaned the mess.

Her daddy wouldn’t sell her
and he couldn’t make her work,
so she growed up in the shadows
and she studied how to lurk

with the old folk and the cripples
that come over on the ships,
and she learned the scars from fetters
from the ones made by the whips

and she learned about the Voodoo
and the goddess of the waters,
how you got to have Queen Mothers
what to raise up priestess daughters.

She’d steal into the cotton fields
and found her back was sturdy
and her mind bore like a weevil
as she flowered full and purty.

Then on her thirteenth birthday
she saw fit to take her leave
so she slipped from that plantation
like a possum through the sheaves

she wandered down to Mobile
and then into Mississip
and she took to mixing venom
with the honey from her lip

she rode that mighty river
Baton Rouge to old Saint Paul,
spinning like a paddle-wheel,
a purser, shark and moll

and when the mood would strike her
she would disappear for weeks
traipsing through the woods and marshes
to live off the land and creeks

but when the Union took New Orleans
in the spring of ‘62
she stepped off the boats forever
and she called herself LaRoux.

Now they thought they’d seen it all
in this ol’ town of iron lace
but they never seen such hard eyes
set in such a silky face

and they never seen a lady
what they’d be afraid to tussle;
kept a razor in her corset
and a pistol in her bustle.

She opened up a brothel
couple blocks off Basin street
with an altar in the basement
and a lock from Jean Lafitte

the whiskey flowed like water
every night was a soiree;
Madam LaRoux, she soon became
the belle of Vieux Carré

but the rumors started spreading
there was evil at her door,
that her girls must be witches
for the gris-gris that they wore

and how they’d mix up potions
what to cast their spells and hexes,
for to drown unfaithful husbands
or grant wishes by three X’s.

Can’t say it seemed to matter;
she collected wealth and fame,
swellin’ like her reputation
deep and wide as Pontchartrain.

Then one night ol’ Scratch hisself
strode in, top hat & tails
to procure a little comfort,
take his mind off his travails

he bought the bottles off the shelf
and kept the ivories hoppin’ -
the boy knew how to make some friends
and kept them duckets droppin’

and when the house was good and high
he settled on a gal,
a copper skinned contessa,
a Creole femme fatale

but when he tried to settle
Miss LaRoux just shook her head,
said he’s free to shine a barstool
but he wouldn’t foul a bed;

said the girls were all her daughters
and she wouldn’t lose a one
to the dalliance and damnation
of perdition’s seventh son.

When his coaxing turned to quarrel
she just flat spurned his demands
as a ransom poured like pittance
from his hot and sallow hands

he seethed she’d best get out his way,
and glaring, eye to eye,
she squared herself, through gritted teeth,
scowled go ahead an’ try.

The story goes they fought all night
some say was two or three;
he couldn’t never take her
and she wouldn’t let him free

until he got so blind with rage
he let loose such a shriek
that it busted out her eardrum
as he vanished like a streak.

But the devil ain’t no quitter, son,
he can’t stand not to win;
he’d slither ‘round from time to time
and they’s start in again

and so it’s been, that day to this -
her ghost still walks the halls
of a dark deserted cathouse
holdin’ vigil, keen to brawl.

There’s a light comes on upstairs
when that ol’ boy’s about,
might hear a thump, or something break,
or someone cuss and shout

and that’s the devil and LaRoux
still scrappin’ for a soul
she still ain’t gonna sell him
and he still aims to control.”

I thanked him for the story
as I spun around to leave,
said I found it fine and fitting
for that howling Hallow’s eve

and I thought I heard him snicker
as I stumbled to the street;
heard a church bell toll for midnight
as the wind whipped at my feet

and I caught a little flicker
coming on, a crimson dim
in the window up above me
and I looked back on a whim

and I froze where I was standing
as the gale and laughter grew
when I saw the windows boarded
like the door I’d just walked through;

the sign for Mac’s Saloon was gone
and hanging on the wall
were three X’s dripping scarlet
in a high and hasty scrawl

and I didn’t hear the thunder
and I couldn’t feel the rain
as a desperate, hopeless terror
drug me somewhere south of sane;

Two blocks off of Basin Street
beneath a pale and haunted light
is where I lost my soul, when I
consoled the devil late one night.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Bad Manners

Slipping down a fraying
sliding down a shifting
I draw a breath and
try to
ignore the squalls that
howl through;

and you demand discussion
unwitting of the bludgeon

tucked away behind my teeth
from its bloodied sheath.

Your fury and
weave the answers
to your questions

I know my brow is burning
as my whetted tongue
is churning;

I know enough
to cage it,
stifle and
assuage it

to stand between the pin and shell
and keep this rancor locked in hell.

You find me cold, unwilling,
a stoic
who’s killing

still I cannot
argue -
ancient rages
mark you -
a brokenness precedes you
a history impedes you
from reaching what it is you seek.

A tear
rolls down
and sears
your cheek;

the wraith who wreaks
and wracks that place
I won’t allow
to wear
your face.

There is no solace
in my

as I’m chewing up

Thursday, October 15, 2009


His hand caught
in the firm grip
of his mother
on the platform


regarding me
as children do
in a dimly innocent
wholly impolite way

knowing nothing of
who I was
or where I’d been
or what I’d done
that day


pretended to read
my ticket,
looked around
here and there
as if I had something
or someone
to look for,
until my eyes finally
and locked
on his


His mother,
seized by a sudden need
for something
secreted away
in her outlandishly large
loosed his hand
and dug
and dug

so with a half-turn
and one
he slowly counted down

four broad buttons
on my overcoat,
like four bright
in an elevator

without a word,
his mother
was busy and


he knew
(rich man,)
I knew

(poor man,)

what he was



Thursday, October 8, 2009


I cannot write an elegy
with elegance or empathy;
I may be a narcissist
and of course you’re deeply missed
but I can’t get past the vision
of your last and worst decision

I cannot write an elegy
in broken-hearted sympathy;
though it does not make me proud
nor would I say these things aloud
I’ve lost you in your misery;
I cannot write this elegy.

Should’ve seen your mama cry
heard the whispers asking why -
was it fear or bleak depression
overpowering regression

Off the wagon, off the meds -
what was going through your head?
had to laugh into a cough
how you’d smirk and shrug it off

It was impulse, not intention -
just a reckless self-suspension;
not a plan to make an end
or sad reunion of your friends

she’d crash through the bathroom door
cut you down and love you more -
would’ve made a killer story
darkest night and dawning glory

I cannot write an elegy
with wisdom or profundity;
I may be a selfish ass
lacking tenderness or class
but, you know - revolving doors
sorry you got stuck in yours

I cannot write an elegy
with lily-scented poignancy;
I can’t say it’s not appalling
that no tears of mine are falling
but reduced to honesty -
I cannot write this elegy

At the service I recalled
found a marker and we scrawled
on the floor, we signed our names
before the carpet layers came

I’d forgotten, and resent
that I wondered what it meant
as your sister choked her way
though her grief to have her say

It was too long since we spoke
too much stout and shiftless smoke;
it was no one’s job to save you
don’t regret the love we gave you

and I bet as things went black
you shed a wish to take it back;
Jesus saves, the devil rents
a misstep’s undue consequence

I cannot write an elegy
befitting of your legacy;
although more than you’d confess
in both breadth and giftedness
there was far too much remaining
such a waste defies explaining

I’ve given up this elegy
but maybe failing is the key;
if our best should bear our witness
let our worst become forgiveness;

I will you, if you can me -
I could not

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Steel toes
and classic rock
dice thrown on
the loading dock

barcodes on
the racks and stacks
bitter coffee
pallet jacks

pictures of
the wife and kids
in a wallet
on the skids

in the bathroom
second stall
taped wall to wall

route the day’s
hide the forklift
driver’s keys

pick and pull
the orders when
the boss gets all
pissed off again

six to three
the whistle blows
classic rock
and steel toes

fill the bar
on Friday night
for beer and wings
the title fight

All in for
another pitcher


Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Secret Life of Crayons

Of all the world’s mysteries
that stretch across the eons,
is one that mystifies me most -
the secret life of crayons.

They seem so simple lying there
or in a tiny fist,
drawing up a family
or wishful Christmas list.

But when the stars are shining down
and dreams drift trough our heads,
they peek from boxes, desks and drawers
and tiptoe past our beds.

Black and Grey take to the streets
and Yellow, just a little,
takes their hands and leaps and skates
precisely down the middle.

Brown and Umber climb the trees
and swing down from the boughs;
Sienna strolls along a fence,
counting all the cows.

Lime and Mint and Forest Green
play tag across the lawns,
over bushes, leaf to leaf –
the secret life of crayons.

Pink and Purple, Goldenrod,
they stop to smell the blooms;
Plum and Melon, Yellow-Orange
thread flowerbeds like looms.

Silver, Gold and Navy Blue
take long walks in the city,
until the buildings, cars and trains
are shimmering and pretty.

White, she disappears alone
with precious few selections;
she whispers from behind the moon
and kisses its reflections.

Sky Blue and Sand meet up with Tan
and fill the cracks and crannies,
while Lavender and Burgundy
check in on gramps and grannies.

Cerulean and Salmon leap
through Periwinkle skies,
and all the others tumble home
with giggles and goodbyes.

Few have ever seen them, true,
and fewer still admit it,
that morning always seems so bright
because the crayons did it.

They scamper back into their place
as we stir in our yawns,
never guessing that there is
a secret life of crayons.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


walk in alone
walk out alone
and in between
there’s stuff to own
and calls to make
and work to do
and someone who will
make you blue

bets to place
on daily races
(if you’re lucky
little faces)
things to worry yourself sick
a perfect day
a little kick

yes in between the doors is where
we carve our names
into the air
and just before we know
we’re gone
we think about
whose mind we’re on.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


(since this one carries some fairly localized / potentially obscure references, i'm using it as an excuse to fool around with hypertext poetry. i’m hoping this will lean more towards interesting than irritating. if not – well - there’s always next thursday.)

Me and Davey cruisin’ in his brother’s fifty-six
dual carbs out-duelin’ every chord from Brick by Brick
summer nights and city lights and candy-apple shine
tryin’ to capture something we could never quite define

up and down on Esplanade, hangin’ out our arms
rumble from that engine settin’ off the car alarms
ridin’ on a
ribbon where the world meets the beach
tryin’ to capture something always just beyond our reach

The girls along the sidewalk
with the high and
frozen hair
in their denim skirts and jackets
in the damp and salty air

and the guys were high on
lift kits
or on Ninjas, in Chevilles
slidin’ wasted down the
ice plant
that was hangin’ off the hills

there was music from the
pier bars
there was sand inside our shoes
and the surf just kept on rolling
and the longnecks and tattoos

Me and Davey cruisin’ in his brother’s fifty-six
dual carbs out-duelin’
Siouxsie Sioux, Fishbone and Styx
summer nights and Camel Lights and candy-apple shine
a couple hamstrung heroes with some
cans and knotted lines

up and down on Esplanade, a taco and some fries
rumble from that engine catchin’ Novas by surprise
ridin’ on a ribbon where the world meets the beach
tryin’ to find out something we could turn around and teach

I’d be smokin’ out the window
he’d be lookin’ for a race
grab the shifter like it bit him
get that look across his face

with a few bucks in our pockets
we had nowhere else to be
we’d drive over
Vincent Thomas
just to see what we could see

kinda funny, when you’re young
you never feel you’re gettin’ older
time just creeps up like the fall
every night’s a little colder

Me and Davey cruisin’ in his brother’s fifty-six
dual carbs out-duelin’ every tape that I could
summer nights and traffic lights and candy-apple shine
sittin’ at an intersection, waitin’ for a sign

up and down on Esplanade, trying to dodge the cops
rumble from that engine guaranteed a couple stops
ridin’ on a ribbon where the world meets the beach
and the sun slips in the water like a ripe and broken

After graduation
we were wild and fast and free
and every night was Esplanade
that Ford and Dave and me

then around September
all the kids went back to school;
Davey got a
union job,
I started cleanin’ pools

and the last time we went cruisin’
I don’t think we even spoke
all that empty ocean shinin’
like the moon fell down and broke

Me and Davey cruisin’ in his brother’s fifty-six
dual carbs out-duelin’ all the things we couldn’t fix
summer nights and
Miller Lites and candy-apple shine
on the run from something we could never quite define

up and down on Esplanade, to nowhere every night
rumble from that engine drowned out everything in sight
ridin’ on a ribbon where the world meets the beach
on the run from something always had us in its reach

up and down on Esplanade, the years just kinda pass -
you either find a place worth goin’
or you just
run outta gas.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Dime Bag

five heads inside five coolers
in Jalisco, by the road
where the kingpins make a killing
and the poorest pay what’s owed

it’s a dime bag on the corner
it’s the puff before you pass
it’s a mother’s moan in Juarez
just a little harmless grass

they still move the bricks of black tar
and the keys of yay and hash
but money’s in the mota
growing fast and green as cash

and it’s flying over Phoenix
tunneled under San Ysidro
and it’s hauled up through El Paso
and it’s shipped through old San Pedro

and it’s just a simple matter
of supply to meet demand
and the competition’s buried
in the Sinaloa sand

dismembered bodies in a Buick
parked outside a taquería
another day in Acapulco
and another bad idea

it’s a dime bag on the corner
it’s the puff before you pass
it’s the multitude of missing
just a little harmless grass

when the factories are shuttered
and the runners ride in style
when you buy a kid’s allegiance
with a soccer ball and smile

when the cops are all complicit
and the army is the cops
when the devil makes pozole
and the murder never stops

when the money’s flowing southward
thick as Texas river mud
from the cities, ‘burbs and backwoods
blowing off a little bud

it’s five heads inside five coolers
it’s a barrel full of lye
it’s a way to make a living
with a thousand ways to die

it’s a dime bag on the corner
it’s the puff before you pass
it’s a few hits in the alley -
just a little harmless grass

[if you're interested - the L.A. Times is doing a remarkable job of following the war you almost never hear about.]

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bum Ticker

“Cold hands
warm heart”
you smiled and said
as your fingers
wound in mine

watching as
the east
turned red
across the Norfolk
Southern line

A year ago
or was it
(my memory -
it’s useless)

a camp beside
the Little
a boneyard of

Never been one
to split
my scraps or butts
or mission bread

never gave much
to it
or asked what swam
inside your head

I could’ve been
a lot
of things
(or so I often
told you)

but that
was just
my ramblings,
a bill of goods
I sold you

The ties are choked
with weeds
and haws,
the rails are rough
and rusted;

(my hands
are always
cold because
my stupid heart
is busted.)

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Her leaves are late;
she likes to sleep
through early spring.
Her dreams are deep.

Ample arms
that offer rest
to minstrels coming
home to nest;

chirping, chatting
where they’ve been
and wondrous things.
She listens in.

Gathering her
strength with haste;
the time is short
with none to waste.

Toiling when
the days are long;
her work is joy.
Her roots are strong.

Soon her tenants
start to stir
and one by one
take leave of her

as breezes turn
to winds that blow.
The others clutch
while she lets go.

First frost finds her
fast asleep.
It’s how she soars.
Her dreams are deep.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Et All

I don’t remember asking for
a poor man’s life
of labor or
ever being offered
any other numbered door.

The world can shift into reverse
and purest things
become perverse -
I suppose,
all things considered,
something always could be worse.

If I don’t work then I don’t eat
my shoes are falling
off my feet
sick of rice and beans
but can’t afford the price of meat.

No shackles ever bound my wrist
I don’t have
an oncologist -
I suppose,
all things considered,
I’ve been fairly fortune-kissed.

Sinking deeper into debt
piling up
some more regret -
fair to say I can’t complain
but it hasn’t stopped me yet.

Hurling through the atmosphere
the astronauts
drink freeze dried beer –
I suppose,
all things considered,
that I’m better off down here.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Serrano y Lima

She is slicing limes
in the kitchen

as July becomes a baptism
of sweat
down my back
and my neck
and my arms

kneeling to pull up
the iron-willed weeds
stealing the shade
of the rosebushes

I have ignored them too long
and they are confident
in the depth
and reach
of their roots

She is slicing limes
in the kitchen

I’ve abandoned the trowel
the spade
stooped and
with dry fingers
in quiet dust
in a quiet

and the pepper of earth
in my nostrils
reminds me
and the slick drops
sliding from my temple
remind me
and the way they bead
and sink
on thirsty ground
reminds me

She is slicing limes
in the kitchen
in a thin dress

My progress is slow
my weedpile
to the dandilions
to the crabgrass
to the sighing

It is mostly leaves
and stems
and very little
of anything
and I wipe a wet face
with a damp shirt

She has stopped
slicing limes
in the kitchen
in her thin dress
as her eyes
as she sways

her hair knotted loosely
off her shoulders
as a gypsy guitar
sings low
from another room
as my hands spread
across her belly

Her finger
is the tang of lime
on my lips
as July drinks the juice
from the cutting board
as July baptizes us
in the kitchen
down our backs

as dandelions
and rosebushes

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Just outside of Flagstaff
on a stretch of dusty road
in a phone booth with the glass broke out
she told me how she growed

and by the time I got there
she was halfway to L.A.
with some guy up in a Kenworth
who had half a mind to stay

But ain’t a man can keep her
you turn around, she’s gone
she’s running from the devil or
she’s chasing down the dawn

Now mister I ain’t crazy
and mister I ain’t wise
I’m just half a cup of coffee
rubbing sleep out of my eyes

Got pretty close in Frisco
give or take a day
but I seen I barely missed her
when they pulled him from the bay

Seems I’m always half a step
or two or three behind her;
her laugh was like a lighthouse
but her shadow’s what defined her

I heard she blew through Texas
maybe stopped in Lafayette
and I just come from Coeur d’Alene
on axel grease and sweat

Now mister I ain’t stupid
and mister I ain’t scared
she may be splitting atoms or
she may be splitting hairs

But she ain’t stopped for long enough
to see her own forever
and I ain’t gonna stop until
we’re running off together.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Fredrick Darling

Built a box
for Fredrick Darling
eyes like clouds
of startled starlings

with his lot
spat and cursed
the very thought

Dug a hole
for Fredrick Darling
nose like knuckles
bent from brawling

burning cheap
cigars and fury
judge and jury

Stamped a stone
for Fredrick Darling
gaunt and gray and
sneering, snarling

hollow beast
that rattled Troy
and hid a scared
and broken boy

Held a wake
for Fredrick Darling
wecome rain
was gently falling

no one but
the parson came
to say a prayer
or bless the name

Fredrick Darling
who’s just as cold
now that he’s

Thursday, July 16, 2009


that night I didn’t kiss you
outside Tony’s
on the pier
or that time you said
you loved me
and I ordered you
a beer

the way I couldn’t stand it
when you sought
my shifting eyes
or the senselessness
I spouted
in ambiguous

when you tried to hold my hand
I’d find somewhere else
to put it
and when anything felt
I’d find some way to
uproot it

and that night I left you crying
outside Tony’s
on the pier
as the surf
plowed through the pilings
I heard every

Thursday, July 9, 2009


Sometimes we get ambushed
by the happiness we’ve hunted -
just because it’s unexpected
doesn’t mean it isn’t wanted

I know you didn’t mean to
and I understand you’re scared
and of course it’s complicated
and of course you’re unprepared

but I know the heart that guides you
and I know you’ll soon see how
much more strength there is inside you
you just didn’t need ‘til now

Their eyes may burn with judgment
disapproval or duress
and of course it won’t be easy
and of course it’s all a mess

but the things that bring you worry
are no causes for concern;
you already know what matters
and it won’t take long to learn

that it isn’t sacrificial
when the things you lose are worthless
and it isn’t accidental
when it grows into your purpose

Sometimes we get sentenced
to more grace than we can take -
no one blessed with breath is
ever anyone’s mistake

Thursday, July 2, 2009


reaching through
the morning mist
shedding drops of

leave the green to
elms and pines
leave the gold to
mums and mines

let your branches
spread and set
a swaying crown of

a kiss from God
and from Ms. Sessions
in each blossom
as it beckons

shame the sky
through every hue
he proffers, never half as

Thursday, June 25, 2009

My Fair Lady

through gate and
lost in you my
carnival girl,
all laughter and wonder and awe,
with shouts of step right up,
three balls for a buck,
neon spinning dizzy through
shrieks and squeals and flashbulbs and
crackle pop calliope spilling
from the fun house from
the hall of mirrors from
the winking stars themselves with

things all and every like a state fair you carry
the brightest the fullest the best of the best
all blue ribbons in
blonde hair, blue sashes
on sundresses,
cornstalks high as houses and
wide brimmed hats,
from the top of the Ferris
to the mock up of Paris with
rickety rides and shady jakes pressing buttons
just dicey enough to ride just
solid enough to trust

and I am running around
too excited to talk too busy to
cry if I fall like a kid all
cotton candy fingered and
pop fizz flustered so alive you
wonder if there was life before if there is
life after but you don’t really care you’re so
rich in moments and in

you, my circus girl,
my peanutsawdusthighwire day,
every day,
smile like a midair no net somersault and held breath
that stops five hundred
hearts at once
and stilt men spider by tossing
confetti and clowns pour from a car while two small
so wide,
so wide,
and fingers forget and
a balloon slips up
and up
past the moon
into a great and grinning

[mid 90's. next week is july - yay!]

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Some days it just don’t pay to awaken
some stubborn rainclouds just refuse to burst
some days it shames me, how much I’ve taken
how something in me still feels such a thirst

Can’t remember just exactly how it started,
just that smile that you often wore
we set out to sail seas uncharted
we left our worries on the shore

Just like a kid inside a candy store
amazed to see such things exist
I guess I thought that there’d be plenty more
let the coins slip from my fist

I wouldn’t say you keep me up nights
but your laughter haunts my sleep
we chased shooting stars and searchlights
and caught nothing we could keep

Although I can’t say why
I think of you now
much more often than I ever did;
as the years roll by
and the lines get deeper
I’m finding things I forgot I hid

I crossed my brides and I let ‘em fall
I just went on ahead
when they came around to pay a call
must’ve figured I was dead

Kept their letters in a shoebox that I’ve since lost
I tucked their photographs away
I didn’t think back then to count the cost
and what I had I gave away

Although I can’t explain
I think of them now
much more than I can justify;
as the years roll by
and the pages yellow
it takes a lot more now for me cry

Rumination never did me no good
I never thought myself too wise
I’d just forget it if I could
rub these visions out my eyes

Though the miles to them can be crossed
the distance seems to mock the thought
the time between us now is simply lost
and can’t be borrowed, stole or bought

although I can’t say why
I think of them now
much more often than I’d care to say;
as the years roll by
and the clouds get darker
there’s things I thought I threw away

Here I am, a bit surprised I guess
at all the candles on my cake
and there’s been a few nights now I will confess
when I just lie alone and shake

But the seasons flow like teardrops off a cheek
each day is one more hill to climb
now and then I feel I’ve sprung a leak
a little more and more each time

They were the best, they were the worst of me
and like a crocus through the snow
they came like ghosts of things about to be
why the weren’t I don’t know

Although I can’t explain
I think of them now
Much more often than I’d recommend
As the years roll by
And the moon gets paler
I’m finding postcards I forgot to send

This is the way it always goes
or so I’ve heard the old ones speak
two doors open for each one you close
you get what you gave up to seek

Late last night a cold northwester
blew in hard over the hills
so I knocked off half a bottle
but couldn’t rack up any kills

Although I can’t say why
you come to mind
much more often than I’d like you to;
as the years roll by
and the lights get dimmer
I feel further from the guy you knew.

[adding insult to injury: i actually mailed this to johnny cash in '97 or '98. never heard back. go figure.]

Thursday, June 11, 2009


she stepped from the flame
and asked me my name
and all i could do
was look at the floor

afraid of her stare
that seemed to ask where
i turned away quickly
and made for the door

she may not have hurt
and my exit was curt
though somewhere within me
i heard somebody sigh

but my will is so thin
i was soon back again
looking for her
that would get me to try;

her hotpants on fire
i danced with desire
but desire went home
with someone less weak

so i bought love a drink
hoping i needn’t think
but she gave her logic
in a tongue i don’t speak

at the end of the bar
i dialed for a car
as dawn was preparing
to unfurl her clean sheets

then i hung up the phone
and i set out alone
as the night passed out drunk
in its dead empty streets

[early / mid 90's]
* titles were apparantly not very important to me at this time - or maybe i thought it was very cool and artsy to not have them - i don't remember.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Some Days Spring

Some days it’s spring,
some days there’s no such thing.

Perfecting portrayals
with better betrayals
we can’t hear the nails
of so long ago

Masters of fooling
we skated through schooling
but when life got grueling
we got up to go

Clouds brought the cold
we watched us grow old
and some grabbed ahold
of what slips away

The sun may get dimmer
the land may get slimmer
but each starlight’s glimmer
has something to say

Some days it’s spring,
and that’s everything.

[early 90's]

Monday, June 1, 2009

Hiatus (Kind of. But not really.)

So let’s say that for the month of June I have to take a hiatus. That would be cool, right? The world would keep spinning? Except I can’t stand the thought of not posting every Thursday, mostly because of how completely unlike me it is to have not missed a week, or seven, or abandoned the whole thing by now. But you know what I could do? I could schedule out the next 4 posts with some of those (at least 10 years) old poems I just dug out of those boxes of junk I’ve been going through. Actually, that’s probably not a very good idea. Then again, it’s not like I have a bunch of pride to protect, so I could totally do that. It might be painful, or amusing, or interesting, or not, but at least it would keep the streak alive. That’s not cheating, is it? (Yeah, right - like I am above cheating.)

Ok, so say I do my June posting in absentia. What about everyone else? I mean, I know I would miss their comments – what if they miss mine? They might think I’m getting weird or I’m ignoring them or something. What if they think I’m a jerk for not having the common courtesy to check out their blogs and let them know I was there? No, they wouldn’t think that. They’d understand, I think, if they knew that it was just temporary, something I don’t want to do but kind of have to do. If they knew it wasn’t anything terrible, just a bunch of normal things I have to address so I can keep my head above water, I bet it wouldn’t be that big a deal. And when I come back around in July and dig through all their stuff I missed, I’m pretty sure they’d forgive me.

I mean, these are some pretty remarkable people we’re talking about. Some pretty incredibly remarkable people.

with more gratitude than I could ever hope to express,


Thursday, May 28, 2009


We bought some rounds
we made some friends
the bandaged thumb
of Michigan
we broke some laws
we bought some time
a shake of salt
a squeeze of lime

short of accidental
but it wasn’t really planned;
wasn’t quite a tractor-trailer
wasn’t quite a black Trans Am
but we never let it stop us
never let it slow us down
chewing through the endless asphalt
just a ricochet through town

We bought some rounds
we made some friends
red wine and
we broke a sweat
we borrowed time
and danced on
someone else’s dime

it wasn’t desperation
but it didn’t make much sense;
we had nothing else to offer
and we offered no defense
we just kept the tires burning
and we kept the headlights on
as it all flew by like fenceposts -
all we ever got was gone

We bought some rounds
we made some friends
black coffee and
we broke some bones
we did some time
sold our watches
and our prime

it didn’t make a difference
that we didn’t have a clue
that the miles, meth and money
we were blithely blowing through
would be coming up behind us
like a freight train down the track;
when those two kids died in Denver
no one thought of turning back

We spilled some rounds
we lost some friends
with shredded backs
whipped by loose ends
we broke it down
in double time
and left it at

the county line

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Smart Cookie

I always take a cookie
when I tiptoe down the cellar,
so in case I find a monster
I can feed the fearsome feller.

I move real quick and quiet
and try not to look too savory,
then when I race back up the stairs
it’s my reward - for bravery!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Dones Capped

when it got too cold
to travel
when it got too dark
to see
i was forced
to build a fire
with the maps
you made for me

as the embers
drifted upwards
they set all the
stars to flying;
i have found
their fallen feathers
i’m done chasing
but still trying

through the breathlessness
of mountains
and the valley
of the ghost
it was never
me i looked for;
i’m not who
i thought of most

where the sand
becomes a mirror
i denied
what i was proving;
it’s the rain
that makes the river
i’m done running
but still moving

i can’t tell you
that i’m sorry
but i can’t say
i was right;
it’s a funny thing
but sometimes
there’s more beauty
in the blight

when the sum of loss
is profit
and when faith
deciphers knowing
every lily
wears a crown;
i’m done building
but still growing

and i think you
always knew
even as you
watched me leave
that it wouldn’t
be the answers
but the questions
i’d believe

put a candle
in the window
trim the wick and
keep it burning –
don’t be worried
know i’m coming
i’m done searching
but still learning

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Skinny Fingers

She had them
skinny little fingers,
she had them
skinny little legs,
she had a certain way of walkin’,
made the boys all walk on eggs

She was a cool
backwater diva,
she was a truck stop
angel eye,
kept her makeup in the glove box,
always gone before goodbye

She sashayed in
the roadhouse
as I tuned up
my guitar,
skinny fingers wrapped a cold one
before she got to the bar

and she ran
her skinny fingers
through her
long brown silky hair,
at a dark booth in a corner,
black powder in her stare

And when I
finished playin’,
she walked
right up to me,
with a voice like June and julep,
skinny fingers on my knee

and I recalled
my mamma,
she’d read ‘em like a book,
sayin’ never trust a woman, son,
what don’t know how to cook

So I told her
she was lovely,
I was glad
she heard me sing,
but how’d them skinny fingers
ever hold a diamond ring?

And she
looked at me quiet,
and the tears
rolled down her face,
and her skinny legs was shakin’,
ran her straight out of that place

I think about her
in these empty sheets
at night,
and that last long skinny finger,
and I think my ma
was right.

[to all you mamas – who are, of course, always right – happy mother’s day!]

Thursday, April 30, 2009


I pass it sometimes
on the freeway,
the chain bus,
a staff of bars along
the windows, flashing
a big gold

back and forth
between the cold walls
of county courts
and county lockup,
property of the state
say the gavels
and guns

diesel fumes
and polished chrome,
white paint
and black glass
seals the innocent,
the guilty,
the sellers,
the shooters

sitting shackled
and silent
as we throw it into 5th
and pop the clutch -
remembering what a wheel
felt like
in their hands,
the radio on,
the smell of
beside them

passing the chain bus
I remember
the night we ran
down railroad tracks
and ducked

into bottlebrushes
with the boombox
and beer cans,
watching the flashlights
bounce around
the bridge

getting kicked out of
dodger stadium
for drinking because
their hands
in my pockets
missed the powder

buying what I had no business
driving when I had no business
to go where I had no business

the stupid buzz I stole for
the backbiting affliction I stole for
the eventual dispossession
I stole for;

I had no answer then.
I have no answer now.

maybe it’s a single moment
or a missed call,
a friend of a friend,
or a bullet
through the window;
maybe it’s what time you
leave the party or
the streets you take
to get home

And then
one morning
you are in a chain bus
on your way to court
to face the music

or in a car
on your way to work
with the music
blowing out the window

and you are driving into the sun,
letting the rhythm
of the ride
keep you numb,
and you carelessly
glance over

and all at once
the air
in your lungs
turns to ice
and the ice
in your eyes
starts to melt
as you think

there is no real reason
why that
should not
be me.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


There is a sailor calling me,
ever, always,
towards the sea,

a shade who walks
a rotted deck,
the broken belly
of his wreck,

in the darkness,
fathoms deep,
restless in
a sodden sleep;

There is a sailor calling me,
some buried root
of ancestry,

forgotten or
perhaps ignored,
a scofflaw on
a rusted sword,

a rogue of
dubious career,
who plied his trade
reviled, revered;

There is a sailor calling me,
in swells of history,

an undertow,
a tidal urge,
to strain against
a rolling surge,

to clench the wheel,
face and fight
a typhoon at
her fuming height;

There is a sailor calling me,
who knows my name,
who says that he

can get a ship,
scare up a crew,
can tell a dead man’s
tale or two,

can anchor in
a quiet bay,
until I’m joined
with him one day;

There is a sailor calling me,
who claims there is
a banyan tree

that spreads above
a hidden plunder,
the spoils of
brigandry and thunder,

abandoned on
a clement shore,
uncharted still
and lost in lore;

There is a sailor calling me,
a siren song
of centuries,

a gale from
a vanished squall,
a hoarse and low
and constant call,

a voice that’s getting
hard to slight,
or blame on tricks
played by the night;

There is a sailor calling me,
ever, always,
towards the sea.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Man Who Wished on All the Wrong Things

I’ve wished a hundred thousand
stars -
on passing cars

On bottle caps
and flickered glows
through window panes
of TV shows

On broken bits
of cookie crumbs
and salt I rubbed
off of my thumbs

On eggshells
and neckbones
and bluebells
and headstones

On pennies dropped
through sewer grates
and signs that welcomed
me to states

and tears I wiped
onto my sleeves
and mission bells
and maple leaves;

I mailed them to
the wrong address
without a stamp –
they’re lost I guess

But now and then I wonder
when I wished ‘em, where they went
and if they’re as sad as I am
that their magic got misspent.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Litany of Laredo

Hail Mary
full of grace
rubbing dirt
into her face
through the plaster
pale and stark
our mother’s face
is glowing dark

Father please forgive me
if a question
is a sin
but when Jacob
pinned the angel
did the angel
let him win?

Hail Mary
full of dread
fleeing when
your husband said
the slaves return
as transients
our mother pawned
the frankincense

Father please forgive me
if I slept
while you were praying
but I lost an ear
to fervor
and I can’t hear
what you’re saying

Hail Mary
full of tears
kept him safe
for thirty years
and made of him
just one request
that tore apart
the hornet’s nest

Father please forgive me
if I’ve asked you
this before
but I couldn’t be
more hungry -
could I maybe
be less poor?

Hail Mary
full of awe
storing up
the things you saw
from the blessed
to the cursed
our mother twice
beheld him first

Father please forgive me
if I can’t find
my way home;
but there’s giants
stalking Judah
and there’s lions
prowling Rome

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Flash & Burn

I think that I shall never see
A poem as lovely as a tree
” -

Of course, I think, and who’d debate
A creed so clear it seems innate?

Deforestation, clear-cut hills,
Poisoned rivers, paper mills;

What kind of fool (or hypocrite)
Am I to cheerfully forget

I chop the wood, I pay the wage,
Each time I put a poem to page?

As flames roar through God’s nursery -
I’ll burn a disc (and save a tree).

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Parading precisely the ivory shines
spiraling coils and laid out in lines
deftly designed and exactly dispersed;
everyone itches to tap on the first

First you make your way alone
then you make a friend
you make a date for Friday
you make love all weekend.

First you love the candle light
then you love the waking
then you love the offering
then you love the taking.

With barely a breath, no more than a graze
the clatter begins and a roar starts to raise
tipping and falling and speeding past stopping;
everyone loves to hear dominoes dropping

First you take some photographs
then you take the cake
then you take for granted
then you take a break.

First you break some promises
then you break a heart
then you break some dishes
and then you break apart.

Like running the wheels off a Radio Flyer
fast and as far as a telephone wire
strung up on poles, heading right out of town;
everyone leaves when they’ve all fallen down

Thursday, March 19, 2009


In dew-strung webs the fall begins
in cardamom
cicada skins
in curling wisps
of apple air
deposing summer

let loose that fistful of balloons
to finger paint
strange afternoons
through distant color
hungry skies
in foreign wonder
hungry eyes

A certain sad September
I prefer to not
a letter came
(week to the day)
still can’t open
(but I may)

every diamond left uncut
keeps its hallowed
secrets but
given over
for the grinding
casts a brilliance
worth the finding

So let this glacial winter pass;
nothing dies
the summer grass
binds her roots
beneath the snow -
just give her spring
and watch her grow

Thursday, March 12, 2009


stone cold
on the ledge of a life

creased wings
empty eyes

a trace
of bright perfume
in an empty

an inflection
in a laugh
on a train
or someone
behind a door
off an alley
Charles Mingus

dark tresses tumbling down a bare shoulder
deserted payphone ringing merrily in the rain
La bohème rising wistfully
from a ragpicker
in a dumpster

a waitress drops a glass
a girl opens a button
a ten-dollar radio
spills Hank Williams
into black coffee

around the next
or one street
or just outside
and above
any window

i am gazing

creased wings
empty eyes


i got tagged by the moan man to come up with a list of 25 writers who i think have most influenced me. this is tricky– it’s a fine line between admiration and influence sometimes, and i usually only become acutely aware of a writer’s influence when what i’m writing starts to feel like a lame imitation of someone i really respect. that said, here’s a list, in no particular order, of my influential writers, with “influential writers” loosely defined as “those whose works consistently inspire/challenge/entertain/move me, whose works remind me how common words can be assembled into brilliant works of art, whose works i never get tired of.”

1. Ernest Hemmingway
2. e.e. cummings
3. James Baldwin
4. Edgar Allan Poe
5. William Blake
6. Bob Dylan
7. Shel Silverstein
8. Shane MacGowan
9. Walt Whitman
10. Sean “Slug” Daley
11. Gabriel García Márquez
12. Lawrence Ferlinghetti
13. Charles Bukowski
14. Arthur Miller
15. Lead Belly
16. Khalil Gibran
17. Christina Rossetti
18. Dalton Trumbo
19. Maya Angelou
20. O. Henry
21. Tom Waits
22. Gary Soto
23. Kenzaburo Oe
24. Paul of Tarsus

number 25 is blank because i’m sure i missed someone, and it’s probably more obvious to you than to me – so, let me ask you – who do you think influences my writing? please know i am genuinely interested, impossible to offend, and do, in fact, want to hear your opinion.

and (you know – tags - s'posed to have 3) i’d like to see such a list compiled by:

Julie Buffaloe-Yoder
K. Lawson Gilbert
Scott Ennis

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Jesus, Larry

Jesus Jones and Larry Lee
lit out one night
from Kankakee
ridin’ hard and
ridin’ fast
like a gunshot
from their past

Larry drove while Jesus wept
and Jesus paced
while Larry slept
on the lam and
second guessin’
smokin’ like
that Smith & Wesson

Jesus Jones and Larry Lee
got tattooed
in Kissimmee;
Jesus with
the dry Euphrates
Larry with
some naked ladies

Larry took his bourbon straight
his bacon crisp
his chance with fate;
Jesus took
his bread with trout
the laundry in
the garbage out

Jesus Jones and Larry Lee
met her outside
table dancin’
at some bar
sniffin’ crystal
in her car

Larry made a couple deals
kept ‘em higher
than her heels
but that all went
to hell one day
and Jesus washed
the blood away

Jesus Jones and Larry Lee
laid low in
silent as
a hangman’s guilt
or bones beneath
the harbor silt

Larry’d had a couple larks
a while back
a guy in Sparks;
Jesus drew
the motel shade,
signed the bible
for the maid

Jesus Jones and Larry Lee
rode until they
hit Shawnee;
Larry felt
a load was liftin’
Jesus felt
his sway was shiftin’

Larry lost his Shovelhead
with a bet
on seven red;
Jesus won
the Harley back
with a run of
bets on black

Jesus Jones and Larry Lee
split up near
a coffee shop
a black and white
a parking lot
a firefight

That ended quick as it began -
Jesus knelt
and Larry ran -
Larry caught two
in the chest
(Jesus rose
and headed west)

[if you voted last week - thank you!]

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Modern Poem

It’s time you wrote a
modern poem;
forget these songs and stories.
(Nice, perhaps, but do we need
more strophic allegories?)

You need to write a
modern poem
to elevate your station.
(No poet, friend, is worth his ink
sans vaunted publication.)

Why don’t you write a
modern poem
that’s brisk and faintly knotty?
Something that will captivate
discerning literati.

You should write a
modern poem,
like laureates deliver -
furtive, dark and delicate,
streaked with gold and silver.

Why won’t you write a
modern poem
that’s bold yet enigmatic?
(Ensconced within a paragraph,
opaque but still emphatic.)

Please, for me, a
modern poem,
a lingual whirling dervish!
(Modern poems do not rhyme.
It’s trite and amateurish.)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Letter to Rae

and byzantine,
what people mean
behind the veil of choice;

if you worry
what they’ll say
they’re less than friends
and if someday
you turn to find
they’ve gone away,
that’s how you’ll find your voice.

The tire swing
is full of rain,
the moon rose like
a whooping crane,
between the waxing
and the wane
we drink the purest light;

the brink is sudden,
sharp and steep -
summon courage
just to leap -
you’re nothing
gravity can keep,
that’s how you will take flight.

And when those bright eyes
cloud and leak,
spilling tears
all down your cheek,
don’t think it small,
unwise or weak
to reach for me in doubt;

if ecstasy
should ebb to ache
and love roar like
your worst mistake,
lift up your heart
and let it break -
that’s how your songs get out.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Blood & Irony

When we woke
the golden beams
of sunlight fell
in cheerful streams;
the laughter rang
the fruit was sweet
the music moved
our nimble feet

We were certain and courageous
we were captains, kings and sages
holding court in revelry
drunk on blood & irony;

We snatched all that we could take
dropped the rest into a lake
that seemed deeper than the sea
black as blood & irony

As the clouds were
across the valley
we were waiting
for a dawning of
enamored with
our own reflection

We were focused and unflagging
as our purse grew strained and sagging
shackled to prosperity
coughing blood & irony;

Struck the brass and cast a bell,
threw our silver down a well
trying to buy our wishes free
drawing blood & irony

When the lightning
split the skies
we were taken
by surprise
as a flash
of revelation
dampened all
our jubilation

We marched out in rigid ranks
as the river claimed its banks
climbing fast and steadily
raining blood & irony;

Plunging through the maelstrom
still convinced we’d not succumb
losing bodies and debris
rushing blood & irony

We retreated
and indicted
one another
as shortsighted;
we demanded
and debated
as the keep
was inundated

We were gripped by desperate fears
charged the mystics and the seers
nailed them to their prophecy
spilling blood & irony;

And still it came, torrential
bitter cold and consequential
split and flowed through each levee
spewing blood & irony

We absconded
toward the hills
wracked by colic
cramps and chills;
a muddy surge
cut off the highlands
as the peaks
sank into islands

We turned and watched the dim cascade
dismantle everything we made
until all that we could see
a flood of blood & irony

Clutching anything that floats
children crying in our coats
as our hope and legacy
drowns in blood & irony

[with sincere gratitude & flimsy apologies to confessional, who (graciously) allowed me to (blatantly) steal the amazing line which is this title which became this poem.]

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Killing Tree

It is misplaced
or misplanted,
the killing tree.

Clinging to the outer edge
of an arc,
a transition,
from one frantic freeway
to another,

at ninety degrees
and leaning,
a handful of weeds
(not even a curb)
from the ground down

The killing tree is high and gaunt,
caked with exhaust
and rubber
and brake dust,
a haggard, hovering
chimney sweep
shrouded in soot
from ceaseless fleeting fires.

leathery leaves
clutch the stems
against the gruff
and harried howl
of flashing sedans
and sparking coupes,
thundering tractor-trailers
and box trucks.

The killing tree
is waiting.

No medium can unravel
the moniker
or the moment
within its rings.

The killing tree
is patient.

In a city of bassinets
and winebars,
of double doors
and bureau drawers,

there is a killing tree,
rooted in providence
and rising from dust,

there is a killing tree,
and unhungry,

a blameless
killing tree,
limbs outstretched,

to welcome

Thursday, January 29, 2009


sorry – this poem has been removed due to some delusional endeavor to get published. i’ll put it back once i come to my senses.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

407 South

Beyond the desert’s
painted sand
the Rockies held
an outstretched hand

before the
undulating plain
perfumed with cornsilk
earth and rain
towards the little white house
on sixth street.

The valley’s rich
and steady slope
bore sugar beets
and cantaloupe,

and a small town
in a copse
of sorghum and
alfalfa crops
with a little white house
on sixth street.

There was chicken
on the fry
as the mijos
pedaled by

there was peach pie
on the sill
as lark buntings
chirped and trilled

there were roses
on the trellis
as the afternoon
befell us

we’d get kisses
on the stoop
homemade noodles
in the soup
at the little white house
on sixth street.

Took us to
the five and dime
paint by numbers

or the fort
built wide and low
for St. Vrain and
Jean Charbonneau

we’d climb on
his lap to drive
in the weathered

or we’d simply
tour a past
in the little white house
on sixth street.

There were letters
bronzed with age
from a father
seeking wage

carbon paper
fountain pens
penny knives
tobacco tins

ration books
left in a drawer
dated nineteen

a Silvertone
and pork pie hats
a pocket watch
and canvas spats
in the little white house
on sixth street.

There was comfort
there was ardor
cricket singing
in the larder

there was kindness
there was order
pinwheel cookies
for each boarder

there had been
a son and daughter
who grew fast and
true as water

and the two
who had remained
in their temperance
were sustained
by the little white house
on sixth street.


One by one
we buried three
still my mother
sits with me

recalling Rockwell’s
Evening Post
and plum butter
spread on toast

and for all
our souvenirs
and photographs
throughout the years

we’ve found nothing
quite akin
to walking back
through memories in
to the little white house
on sixth street.

[2 of 2]

Thursday, January 15, 2009


I was the little kid
in class
who never paid
whose daydreams were
his slide and swings,
his playground of

I was the chunky
awkward boy
whose skin would
never fit,
fumbling through
a formless fear
he never could

I was the dude
in high school,
when house parties
broke off pairs,
wrapped his arm
around the keg
and woke up
on the stairs;

I’m the guy
who cannot give
a single reason
waits for
something great
to come
from mediocrity;

I will be the old man who,
in a wal-mart vest,
smiles as you
hurry past,
as his


Thursday, January 8, 2009

Southern Moon

I ain’t too close and ain’t too far,
white lightnin’ from a mason jar,
seen my sister? She’s a star,
catchin’ out a parlor car -
tip a hat to the southern moon.

I seen Grandma Moses ferried
(I know why the rabbit tarried)
I seen Elvis get remarried
(I know where the money’s buried)
can’t hide from the southern moon.

I seen more debauchery
than three of me’d care to see -
out ‘neath the honeylocust tree
the devil stacks his dowry
by the light of the ol’ southern moon.

I seen Richmond torched and torn,
I heard Satchmo blow his horn,
the dyin’ and the barely born
is mad as magpies in the corn
lookin’ up at the low southern moon.

I ain’t concerned about your lot,
or what your mamma said you ought -
just once, before your farm is bought,
throw back your head
give all you got
howlin' up at the full southern moon.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Hanging in the Hush

sorry – this poem has been removed due to some delusional endeavor to get published. i’ll put it back once i come to my senses.